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Jean Hebert and Renault’s record-breaking turbo-engined Shooting Star

Posted in Cars, Historical articles, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Friday, 10 August 2012

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This edited article about Etoile Filante originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 761 published on 14th August 1975.

A blue speck appeared in the shimmering mist on the far horizon. It was a car which grew rapidly larger. Then, whoosh, it had gone, its twin-stabilisers knifing the air as it skimmed past.

The car was the aptly named French “Shooting Star” (Etoile Filante) which gained the world speed record for turbo-engined cars on 5th September, 1956, on the famous salt flats at Bonneville, U.S.A. where many other land speed records have been broken.

At the wheel was Jean Hebert, an engineer-driver for the Renault company which had made the “Shooting Star”. Hebert was one of the backroom boys of the motor industry, who did not seek fame.

But on this occasion, a moment of glory was his as he drove his car along the flats at speeds of 191 and then 192 mph. The kilometre was covered at 306.9 kph, the mile at 307.7 kph, five miles at 300.4 kph and five kilometres at 308.8 kph.

Years earlier, John Cobb had driven at twice these speeds. But for the turbo-engined car, the “Shooting Star’s” record was a good one which has remained unchallenged since the day it was first set up twenty years ago.

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